Tuesday, February 22, 2011

East Sector Plan coming back

It appears that commissioners again are finally set to vote – for what seems like the thousandth time but probably isn’t – on the East Knox County Sector Plan, a long-term guide for economic development.

But, area residents who want to keep the land pristine and rural shouldn’t worry. Because the nefarious, divisive, controversial (blah, blah, blah) Midway Business Park proposal is still off the table.

However, Commissioners during their monthly work session agreed 9-2 (Sam McKenzie and Vice Chairman Brad Anders cast the dissenting votes) to put the rest of the proposal on Monday’s agenda.

In the meantime, county Mayor Tim Burchett said a “visionary” committee he put together in January to brainstorm ideas for the remaining land where the park was planned will report back to him in about 60 days.

“We haven’t really set any parameters,” Burchett said, talking about the marching orders sent to the committee. “We’re just looking for (new) ideas and solutions.”

(On a side note, the good doctor and Commissioner Richard Briggs pointed out that the committee – comprised of business park opponents and supporters – doesn’t own the land. So, the group making the proposals really doesn’t have any control of the outcome. It will be up to the Development Corporation of Knox County – the owners – to act on the recommendations.)

The land in question? About 380 acres off the Midway Road exit from Interstate 40. The Development Corp. bought it for almost $10 million and set aside roughly $17 million to develop it. (Its nerd-name by the way is “E.C.O. 7”.)

As it stands right now, according to Metropolitan Planning Commission Executive Director Mark Donaldson, developers could currently build five units per acre (either houses, complexes, duplexes, whatever), on the land.

However, as pointed out by one of the coolest-named community activists around, Lisa Starbuck: Nothing is getting built on the land right now because there isn’t any sewer out there.

As far as the rest of the East County Sector Plan goes?

Commissioner Dave Wright (whose district includes the area) said: “It’s been worked on for three years. It’s current, it’s up-to-date and people like it.”

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